Kidneys fail but PSU student thrives

Nick LaHusen's kidneys suddenly failed in 2016

PSU student Nick LaHusen has figured out how to do dialysis and maintain a full course load, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)
PSU student Nick LaHusen has figured out how to do dialysis and maintain a full course load, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nick LaHusen will never forget February 2016. He couldn’t sleep and was having trouble breathing.

A roommate rushed him to the hospital and the “whole ride there I was gasping for air,” the 23-year-old PSU student said. “I was basically drowning because of the liquid in my lungs.”

When he woke up at the hospital, his life changed. It had to in order for him to survive.

“I was in there for 2 days and on second day I basically had a Code Blue, which is basically like the patient is dying,” he said. “I woke up on Valentine’s Day with a chest catheter.”

What happened was LaHusen’s kidneys failed. Now, in addition to medications, exercise and eating differently — “Oh my God, I miss cheese so much!” — he also needs dialysis treatments.

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It’s a process that keeps him alive by cleaning toxins from his blood and removing extra water from his body.

He said he accepted what was happening and never got discouraged, though there were some moments.

“I was obviously a little angry at first, like what did I do to deserve this,” he said. “But then they told me it was an autoimmune disease and there was nothing that I did.”

“I guess there was a fleeting moment of maybe I can’t do all that I want to do, but that quickly changed when I met my doctors at Fresenius Kidney Care,” he told KOIN 6 News.

One of the boxes of dialysis materials in Nick LaHusen's home, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)
One of the boxes of dialysis materials in Nick LaHusen’s home, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)

He’s found a way to do 12 hours of dialysis daily, at home, at night. The process works while he sleeps, which means he can go to school during the day.

LaHusen is a proud PSU business student and plans one day to start a video game business.

“I’m ambitious, to say the least. I know it will take longer now because I can’t take as many classes,” he said. “I want to take a 16-credit course load so I can get done with my degree faster, but I can’t do that because I have to do dialysis for 12 hours a day.”

His dialysis, he said, does not define him.

Boxes of dialysis materials in Nick LaHusen's home, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)
Boxes of dialysis materials in Nick LaHusen’s home, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)

“I just make jokes about it and if you make jokes about it you’ll be more willing to talk about it and other people will see that it’s not a taboo subject and they’ll be more willing to talk about it.”

He has a friend who is currently going through the process to see if he can donate a kidney and he’s hoping for the best.

Getting a kidney would let him do the things he misses — going to the beach, swimming, eating ice cream and cheese again. But he said what’s interesting is that he’s now the healthiest he’s ever been.

“I’m exercising regularly because I have to stay fit and healthy in order to keep healthy in general,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

Nick LaHusen is not waiting around for life. He’s living his life.

“I want to still take the time to achieve my goals. I don’t want to wait until I get my kidney to start my life.”